Tag Archive | encouragement

There is encouragement in prophecy

The prophetic scriptures are often overlooked as being allegorical only (they’re not), as being irrelevant (they’re not) as being fulfilled (not all of them) as being tinged with the stigma of not being as important as the ‘real’ verses (nope, just as important). I’ve noticed that the Bible says we should be excited about the soon appearing of our Lord, encouraged by the doctrine of imminence, (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:11), and in awe of the Lord’s deeds (Exodus 15:11; Psalm 66:5; Zephaniah 2:11…).

God, in His infinite wisdom, put prophecy in His Word because He knows it is good for us to understand His future plans, as far as He has revealed them. (Amos 3:7). Thus, the Lord has put prophetical truth into His Word because He wants us to know! Prophecy reveals His sovereignty more than any other scripture, in my opinion. He tells us thousands of years prior and then it comes true exactly the way He said. I never get tired of seeing it in culture and reading it in scripture and knowing it dear in my heart.

“Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning,And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.” (Isaiah 46:9-11).

In addition, prophecy reveals His sovereignty because it shows that His purposes cannot be set aside, diverted nor thwarted. He is over all that exists, and He will bring it about as He has said.

Prophecy leads us to Christ. For who above anyone else can do these things. Who is like Him? None!

“Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come–yes, let him foretell what will come.” (Isaiah 44:7).

There is no God like our God, and He chose to reveal details of His plan and purpose from the ancient of times to now. Learn it! Study it! Be humbled by it! You will be in awe of Him, AND you will be comforted. He will bring about our redemption just as He brings about these other things. He will bring about our renewal from creatures of sin to creations of His glory. It is a comfort to remain in His truth, His word is a security blanket that comforts as much as it convicts.

“Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12).

prophecy

Kay Cude poetry: When We Remember

Kay Cude poetry. Used with permission. Artist’s statement below.

As I continue to go through them my perspective is reinforced with the fundamental truth: it is necessary that we learn and grow through “issues” and situations we’d rather avoid. They will either drive us deeper into Scripture and prayer, or we will allow them to drive us into despondency, confusion and sorrow. When we experience breath-knocking blows, above all else it is necessary that we “remember” Who our first love is and that He, Christ is our ever-present secure help. He is our All-in-All, our sufficiency, protection, strength and giver of wisdom. We must remember that issues and circumstance have eternal purpose for His beloved redeemed.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7b/Polenov_MechtySAR.jpg

Full of Eyes: Love is the measure of knowledge

Here is artist, visual theologian, and animator Chris Powers of the ministry Full of Eyes with a visual representation of the verse from 1 Corinthians 8:3. His work can be viewed on Patreon (where you can support him also), website Full of Eyes, and Youtube. His explanationis below.

known by god
Artist’s statement below:

1 Corinthians 8:3, “…if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”

The Passage Explained

The tense of the verbs used in 1 Corinthians 8:3 sheds some light on Paul’s intended meaning. Translated in a way that emphasizes the verbal tenses, 1 Corinthians 8:3 could read:

“But if anyone is loving God (present active tense), he has been known by God (perfect passive tense).”

Paul’s point here is not that our love for God somehow causes us to stand out in the crowd so that God acknowledges us, or that our love “earns” or “secures” or “attracts” His knowledge of us. Rather, he is teaching that God’s knowledge of us is the foundation for our love of Him.

Now, of course, since God’s knowledge is perfect and infinite, God “knows” all people. How, then, can I say that His knowledge of a person is the basis of their love for Him? If God knows all people, and if Paul tells us that God’s knowledge of a person leads to their love for God, then how is it that all people do not love God?

The answer comes when we realize the sort of knowledge Paul likely has in view here. He is not talking about God’s general knowledge of all people, but of the saving, choosing, predestining knowledge that He has for His elect people. It’s the sort of knowledge that we read about in Romans 8:29-30,

“For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.”

In this passage, God’s knowledge of a person constitutes their being predestined to glory in Christ. The idea is not that God knows that a person will trust Christ and so—on the basis of that knowledge—predestines them. Rather it is because God knows them as His own that they subsequently trust Christ. In Romans 8:29-30, God’s knowledge of a person is an effective knowledge, a choosing knowledge, a knowledge that causes the one known to become what God—in His sovereign will as Creator—knows them to be, namely, His elect people.

God’s knowledge of us is foundational to who we are, in fact, it might be argued that we are nothing other than what God knows us to be. We are His creatures, sustained from moment to moment by His will (Hebrews 1:3), if He ever—even for one second—”forgot” about us, we would be obliterated from the timeline of reality….we would cease to exist. We are only because God knows us to be. And since His knowledge of us is the spring of our existence, if He knows us to be His children in Christ, then that is what we are. This is why His foreknowledge of His people as being united to Christ eventually manifests in their lives as individual choices to trust in Christ—we are in Christ because He knows us to be in Christ, not the other way around.

It seems to me that Paul has this sort of “Romans 8:29-30 knowing” in mind when he says in 1 Corinthians 3:8 that, “if anyone is loving God, he has been known by God” (my translation). In other words, a person’s love for the One True God as revealed in Jesus Christ is a strong proof they have been known by God and are thus chosen as one of His own. When our hearts and minds behold the glory of God in Christ (2 Cor.4:6) and rise up to Him in adoration and faith and hope, we are bearing witness to ourselves and others that God has known us—from all eternity—to be His own in His Son (this same concept seems to be stated in different words in Romans 8:15-16 where the cry of our hearts to God as “Abba” bears witness that we are His children).

However, it must be noted that there is no love for God if there is no love for others. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 8 and following as he elaborates on the absolute necessity of building others up, laying down one’s rights for the good of neighbor, etc. The love for God that bears witness to having been known by God must also be Christ-like love for other.

So, in response to the Corinthians who were using their knowledge as a bludgeon to beat others into submission, Paul dismisses their “knowledge” as worthless and points instead to the necessity not primarily of knowing, but of being known, being known by God. If God has known us, then we will be marked by a love for God that manifests as a self-giving, Christ-imaging love for others.

But how can one seek this knowledge? How can one seek to be known by God? You cannot. Rather, Paul shifts the emphasis from building one’s self up to building others up, i.e., to loving others. If anyone has true knowledge, it will bear the fruit of love of God and others, and where such love is present, it bears witness—not only to the knowledge of the one who loves—but (and more fundamentally) to God’s knowledge of them. If there is no love, then there is no evidence of knowledge—neither a person’s knowledge of God, nor God’s electing knowledge of that person.

The Picture Explained

In this picture I tried to emphasize the two types of knowledge that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 8:1-3. At the edges of the image are those who “think they know something,” that is, those whose knowledge builds themselves up rather than building others up. The “light” around their heads is dark gold to show the flawed nature of their knowing, they “do not yet know as they ought to know.”

In the center of the image is a depiction of the second sort of knowledge that Paul mentions, namely, being known by God. The woman’s head and shoulders are encompassed within the halo that represents God’s knowledge of her in Christ, portraying that not only is she known by Him, but that His knowledge of her illuminates her understanding as well (Galatians 4:9). Her outstretched hands are in the wounded hands of the Son, showing that God’s electing knowledge of her entails her being purchased by the atoning work of Christ.

However, the woman’s outstretched hands also place her in a posture that images Christ on the cross. God’s knowledge of her in Christ results in her conformity to the love of Christ. This self-giving love is also pictured by the water flowing from her heart into the Christian community, even over those who do not love in return.

More foundational than knowing something about God, is to be known by God in His Son, Jesus Christ. To be known in this way by the Creator of the universe is to be His blood-bought child, and will of necessity result in our knowing and loving Him in Christ, which in turn, results in our love for those around us. Love is the measure of knowledge.

Some more Pre-Trib comfort

Once again I’m presenting comfort in the hope of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

At a certain point in earth’s history to come, it is promised to us that Jesus will lift His church composed of Christians dead and alive, into heaven to be with Him. Then he will hurl His stored-up wrath upon earth to punish the unbelieving nation Israel, and the sinful Gentile world. Some people say there will be no rapture at all. Others say that it will happen at the end of or in the middle of the time of wrath (AKA the Tribulation, or Time of Jacob’s Trouble). Since the rapture is in the Bible, and since it is a single even that is promised to occur, it can’t happen both before the Tribulation and at the end. Therefore one of those positions is right and one of them is wrong.

It is correct to interpret that the Bible teaches that the rapture will happen before Jesus begins the last days punishments. Paul taught this in his treatment of the subject in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians 15:42-57, it’s in Revelation, as well as being taught implicitly throughout other books of the Bible.

The event is supposed to be a hope to believers, and an encouragement, said Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:18. When you look around the dark world with its sin and evil, take hope in the knowledge that Jesus has a plan. His plan includes filling a quota for His Church (Romans 11:25). When that occurs, He will remove His Bride from the wrath, because we are not appointed to it. (Revelation 3:10). We will appear before His Bema seat to receive rewards for our service to Him while we were on earth, (2 Corinthians 5:10), and then enjoy the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7–10). Meanwhile on earth, the Tribulation will have begun.

You will hear these things mentioned in the 19-minute video below. Enjoy! Be encouraged!

FMI:

11 Reasons for a Pre-Tribulation rapture

Reasons for a Pre-Tribulation rapture

Old Testament Prophets: Resources for you!

The OT is full of marvelous poetry, wisdom, history, narrative accounts, and of course, prophecy, like the prophecy above from Isaiah. As we know from the Bible, all scripture is profitable for correction, education and reproof. But sometimes the prophecies, which are embedded within ancient history, and sometimes use highly figurative or symbolic language, can be a challenge to read, understand and interpret.

I’d like to first encourage you all by saying that we have THE interpreter available to us in the Person of the Holy Spirit. If you pray and ask for wisdom when reading the scriptures, it will be added to you without reproach. (James 1:5).

The prophetic books can be a challenge though, and there is no problem whatsoever in consulting commentaries, historical books, or sermons from the greats that came before us. The Holy Spirit raised them up to inspire their generation and the generations after, namely, us. So don’t feel inhibited if after reading some passages that challenge you, and after prayer and your own study, in seeking good resources. To that end, here are a few suggestions if you are feeling intimidated by some of the less well-known prophetic OT books.

Pastor-Teacher Mark McAndrew is pastor of North Avenue Church, Athens GA. He is my pastor and this is my church. Mark is uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit, especially for someone so young, to possess such deep insights of the entire Bible. He teaches Bible to High School students at a Christian Academy as well as a Bible class in the public school system (after hours and off campus). He also substitute preaches at a large, local Baptist Church. (He’s busy!). He spent many months going through Genesis almost verse-by-verse and he recently began going through the minor prophet book of Micah. I can confidently recommend our pastor to you for Old Testament preaching as a solid resource (and also NT of course!)

Micah 1: Learning to Read the Old Testament Prophets
Micah 2-3: Learning to Read the Old Testament Prophets (Part 2)

Dr. James Montgomery Boice has preached through almost all of the Old Testament prophets (of course many other books too). His simple, clear preaching carries the listener along in ancient days when the prophets lived and preached. You can hear him at The Bible Study Hour. Want to hear about Daniel? Habakkuk? Haggai? Other Minor or Major Prophets rarely preached on? All of his series are here. They are trustworthy.

Dr. John MacArthur is known for his Holy Spirit supported feat of preaching through every verse in the New Testament. It took him 42 consecutive years, beginning in 1969 and concluding with Mark in June 2011. Though he has not preached through OT books, he has substantively preached from many of them, notably Daniel and Isaiah. On the right is a list that is available of sermons from the Old Testament prophets (and other books) from John MacArthur. The sermons are transcribed, too, so you can follow along in print, print them out or download the sermon itself for later listening. The OT books covered by MacArthur are listed to the right. They are trustworthy materials, here.

Dr. S. Lewis Johnson is an excellent teacher of all texts and preached much of his career at Believer’s Chapel in Dallas TX. His sermons were recorded and remain free and open to the public. His sermons were also transcribed, so you can follow along or print them out if you desire. Many of the OT prophets are exposited through his calm and reassuring teachings, here.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached 133 sermons from the Old Testament thorough his fruitful career, many of those from the prophets. The list of MLJ’s Old Testament sermons is to the left. They can be found here. You can also search for his sermons by book.

Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world. His ministry is called Truth for Life, and his simple, clear teaching is always a joy to listen to. The British accent doesn’t hurt, either 😉 He can be heard here, and in addition to many of the prophetic books, Pastor Begg also has preached from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations, books that also do not get a lot of love or attention. His OT list on on the right.

So I hope that helps for a list of credible sermons from the OT books, the prophetic books particularly. They can be challenging, but they are so worthwhile. As Charles Haddon Spurgeon said in his sermon ‘Christ in the Old Testament,

The Old Testament was Christ’s Bible, and it is a Bible full of Christ.”

Enough said!